- The Washington Times - Monday, February 12, 2007

As the House of Representatives begins debate on Iraq this week, we must keep one essential point in focus: The consequences of failure in Iraq are too grave for this country, for Iraq, the Middle East and the world.

Democrats will argue they don’t agree with the reinforcement plan in Iraq and will introduce a non-binding resolution outlining this position. Yet, to date, Democrats have offered no alternative plan of their own. I think their approach is irresponsible.

On Nov. 7, the American people sent a message to Congress and the Bush administration, that they wanted a change of course in Iraq. This means taking steps to turn the situation around in Iraq. It does not mean throwing in the towel, and allowing the entire Middle East to spiral into chaos.

If the Democratic leadership in Congress begins taking steps that weaken our position in Iraq, including a drawdown of our support for the Iraqis before the country is stabilized; the consequences for the region and for our country will be severe. To illustrate the severity of failure we only need look at what the likely response from Iraq’s neighbors would be.

For starters, there’s the threat from Iran. Iran would have little to lose and much to gain from a destabilized Iraq. The country’s bellicose involvement in the war in Iraq is undeniable we know Iranian arms and equipment are being used to kill coalition troops in Iraq, and Iranian intelligence agents are actively seeking to thwart progress in the country. If we fail in Iraq, Iran would likely intervene, attempting to seize control of the government and Iraq’s oil fields. This would increase the threat from Iran towards Iraq’s neighbors as it attempted to dominate the entire region. We could expect that Iran would continue conducting proxy wars, utilizing radical Islamic terrorist organizations to further their political objectives in places like Lebanon and the Israeli West Bank.

A failed Iraq could also compel other neighboring countries to intervene. Turkey may choose to deploy troops into Northern Iraq to prevent Kurdistan’s independence, and Saudi Arabia and Egypt may choose to deploy forces into Iraq to protect the Sunni population. We could also expect Syria, a state sponsor of terror, to increase its support for Ba’athist insurgents in an effort to reinstate a Ba’athist regime in Iraq. A fractured Iraq would provide the distinct possibility of Sunni-Shi’ite war throughout the Islamic world. This would be no less than disastrous for the region and American national security interests.

Under a failed Iraq, the Iraqi people would be left to suffer under an increasingly dire humanitarian crisis, which would most negatively impact the 40 percent of Iraq’s 26 million residents who are under the age of 15. Wholesale genocide would be a very possible outcome.

Iraq would become ripe for terrorist recruitment and training as well as a fertile breeding ground to sow the seeds of hatred and extremist thought in the Middle East.

Ultimately, a failed Iraq would be an enormous victory for terrorists worldwide, and would dramatically increase the risk of terrorist attacks on our own soil and throughout the world.

And let’s be clear about the reality of such a situation occurring the U.S. would have no choice but to invest militarily and financially to help stabilize the Middle East region. These commitments would be tenfold to what we are committed to today and would be unending.

So, what’s the answer? There are no easy answers to resolving the situation in Iraq, but we have reached the point at which we need to do everything we can to turn around the situation. This is now the only real option to preventing a failed Iraq.

The Iraqi government’s new plan for securing Iraq includes increasing our troop strength by 21,500, enacting a new security plan for Baghdad and al Anbar Province and dismantling militia groups. Iraqi leaders have also recommitted themselves to reach political compromise in order to achieve stability in the country. Iraqi leaders have expressed an appreciation for the severity of the situation and say they are committed to turning it around. The Maliki government must follow through in order for this new plan to succeed.

With the new plan for Iraq being implemented at this very moment, we won’t have a sense of whether the plan is working until a few months down the road, at the earliest. Between now and then, Congress has a responsibility to closely monitor the progress being made on all fronts — political, diplomatic and military. If in a few months from now we see that no progress is being made or if it becomes clear the Iraqis are not keeping their end of the bargain to stabilize their own country, we have a responsibility to re-examine the situation and look for alternative plans for success.

All options would need to be on the table at that point.

Rep. Kay Granger, Texas Republican, is vice chairman of the Republican Conference.

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